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Child Predators – The Secrets of Mind Control

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In 1992 while living in Los Angeles, actor and magician Steve Valentine invited me to be his guest at the world famous Hollywood Magic Castle. The Castle is a private club dedicated to the promotion of magic as an art form and hobby. Club members perform their illusions up-close, chair-side, right under your nose. Afterward, our group ended up at my apartment where Steve was gracious enough to show us more magic. Amazed at how easy it was to fool us, I asked him point blank, “Why can’t we figure it out?”His answer has stuck in my mind for almost 20 years. “Magicians can get away with it,” he said, “because we know how you think.” Having a degree in communication and psychology, I was riveted by the idea that the majority of humans (myself included) process the world through a homogenous lens that others can easily manipulate to fool us into seeing exactly what they want us to. And what’s truly discouraging, as anyone who has ever been privy to the workings of a magic trick can attest, is how mindlessly simple the bending of reality needs to be to completely fool everyone. I had always believed the wonder of magic rested within the skill of the magician. Come to find out, it’s more accurately rooted in the ignorant conformity of the audience.What I learned that night has proven instrumental in my understanding of how child predators actually get away with their crimes.Thus far society has no pragmatic solution to stop child molesters from acting upon their criminal desires. The best we can do is:1. Discourage them through lengthy prison terms2. Thwart their attempts by edifying and monitoring our children3. Catch them and lock them awayAlthough there have been great advances in mandatory sentencing laws (eg. Jessica’s Law) the legal process is still very much out of the average parent’s control. Lengthy prison terms should not be our top priority because in order to have any effect, the offender must first be reported, arrested, and convicted. Our first priority should be to prepare our children against an enemy who hasn’t yet been captured. We will save countless more children through proactive education than we can ever hope through sentencing the few who get caught.My books remind parents that Predators only reveal themselves to other Predators and children. In other words, our children are the entire frontline of defense and fortunately they are completely capable of both thwarting an attack and turning the offender into the police. However, statistics show they are poorly prepared to do either. Our frontline is failing miserably.Consider the following:
Child molestation is one of the most underreported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed. (1)
Only 12% of all cases of child abuse are reported. (2)
An average serial child molester has between 360-380 victims in his lifetime. (3)For a moment, let’s forget about the thwarting and simply question the reason why children are not reporting the attacks. Obviously something isn’t working. Even in the watered down sex abuse prevention programs taught in our schools, children are encouraged to tell a trusted adult.Is it reasonable to assume the child doesn’t realize they’re being molested, or is it safe to believe a sexually abused child knows very well they are a victim? The related problems-social reclusion or acting out, fallen grades, lack of focus, and depression, to name a few-that befall an abused child all clearly indicate the psyche of the child is completely aware of the evil happening upon them. Why then? Why are they not reporting it?The answer is simple; like a magician, predators get away with it because they know how children think, and as a result they’re able to convince adult eyes to see exactly what they want us to see; an ILLUSION that nothing is wrong.The mind control – the trick – the reason victims are not reporting the crime, is simply this: Fear. Predators use the most powerful human motivator-Fear-to trick our children into silence.How Molesters Bend Reality Right Under Our NosesDue to the child’s ability to identify them, a Grooming Predator must exercise control over the child and in all cases seal that incriminating secret with fear.Top Fears Preventing Children From Reporting Abuse1. GUILT – fear that others will not forgive them for their role leading up to the attack.A female friend once confided in me that the pedophile who ingratiated himself into her family and continually raped her over many years started by gaining her complicit affection. He would treat her to gifts and candy and then in private collect kisses for these presents. These affectionate gestures were later translated by him into the claim they were boyfriend and girlfriend. Being in early elementary school and having no boyfriend, she was flattered by this notion along with his kind embraces and generous attention. As he carried it farther and farther, he always built upon her previous compliance and made her feel as though she was equally responsible. She could not tell her parents due to the guilt she felt for her role in the abuse.Yet another woman shared the following with me in an email, “Another problem with telling about sexual abuse…is that some people believe that if someone is sexually abused, they must have done something to lead the predator on. That was a problem I faced when I told my mom about the attack on me. Despite having been sexually assaulted herself when she was little (by a baby-sitter), she still accused me of having lead (the janitor) on. Looking back, I have to question that thinking. I was only 8 years old. How would I even have known how to lead a man on?”2. TROUBLE – fear the predator will reveal some other secret that will get them in trouble.Groomers often build up ammunition against a child to counter the potential reporting. Simply put, it’s an “If you tell on me, I’m going to tell on you” threat. Groomers encourage and allow children to indulge in pleasures parents would forbid, such as unhealthy foods, certain music, alcohol, drugs, and pornography. With the Predator aggressively supplying the opportunity, the child will partake of these off-limit items and later fear punishment if they rat out the attacker.3. CREDIBILITY – fear that others will not believe them.Actually, there is no direct negative effect in not being believed. A child’s fear that they won’t be believed is usually just the upper crust of a deeper fear. For instance, will they be ridiculed for sounding crazy, or reprimanded for making up stories about “dirty things.” Perhaps the attacker threatened that if they do tell and are not believed then the child will suffer at the attacker’s hands? Their real fear is WHAT will happen because they are not taken seriously, or what will happen if no one actually does believe them. These are the bedrock fears and can actually be more appropriately categorized by one of the following4. EMBARRASSMENT – fear of extreme embarrassment, others finding out, ridicule.Shame is a crippling emotion. For a child, the question becomes-Is it better to suffer the secret shame, or have everyone know what has happened to me? Predators know the power of this and use it liberally.- Think of everyone in church knowing you actually did this? God hates you.- You wouldn’t want me to put those pictures on the internet and have everyone in your school see you naked would you?- If you tell on me, I may get in trouble, but I’m going to let everyone know exactly whatwe did together, and let them know that you liked it and asked me to do it.5. PHYSICAL HARM – fear that they, or someone they love, or something they love (pet) will be harmed.Shawn Hornbeck made national attention a few years back when discovered in the apartment of his captor four years after his abduction. The nation was elated the boy was found alive but stunned by reports that the boy, who was often left alone in the apartment and had even been seen playing with neighborhood kids, had never tried to escape. Shawn’s stepfather offered the only possible explanation, “You got to remember that Shawn was 11 years old when he was taken. So he was much more vulnerable…and obviously something was done to keep him there. You know you can be bound mentally as well as physically. You can be so terrified and so afraid that it can control your life, which obviously it did.”Aren’t Sadism and Sexual Abuse two sides of the same coin? Sadistic Predators have no reservations about threatening the child’s life, or threatening to kill family members or dismember pets. The heightened violence of their rhetoric is something children have never encountered and have no idea the tactic may be empty threats. A terrifying adult who has already proven they’re capable and willing to attack isn’t something a child can easily second guess. Is it any wonder they choose to remain silent?Learn The Trick, Destroy The IllusionMy mission is to help parents teach their children the tricks Predators will attempt to pull and the spells of fear they will attempt to cast so that children are finally able to see outside the illusion.Like a cliche pick-up line that identifies a creep in a singles bar, cliche tactics help identify creepy adults to children. The only way something becomes cliche however, is by one’s over-exposure to the content. Children cannot learn this by themselves. As parents we must edify and empower our children to recognize patterns and ploys that will be used against them.Teach your children that any secret sealed in fear is one that can further destroy their lives and the lives of others. Let them know there are others who will say absolutely anything to scare them into not telling the “secret.” Explain that threats of violence and physical harm are the main lies bad people will use to keep them quiet.The result of this education will be an increased thwarting of attacks as well as more reporting to authorities. Our frontline of defense will be able to see through the Predators’ cheap parlor tricks and turn the tables.It is not the skilled mastery of the Predator that allows them to molest and rape our children and get away with it; rather it is the conformed ignorance of our children. We must therefore make every effort to arm our children with pragmatic information to help them to fight back and destroy the monsters who would hurt them.Learn the tricks. Destroy the illusion.1 Source: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin2 Source: Hanson, R.F., Resnick, H.S., Saunders, B.E., Kilpatrick, D.G., & Best, C. (1999). Factors relating to the Reporting of Childhood Sexual Assault. Child Abuse and Neglect, (23) 559-569.3 Source: South Carolina Forcible Sex Crimes (1999). Summary, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Columbia, SC.

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